Winter Wanderings in Manhattan

January 7, 2014

Winter Wanderings in Manhattan - Sweet and Savoring [photo by Andy Milford]

Looking out on Columbus Circle from the Time Warner building

When I was a little kid, it was the most exciting thing ever to take the train into the city and see how Manhattan dressed up for the holidays. The smell of roasting chestnuts, the twinkling lights everywhere, and the sound of Christmas music coming out of stores all contributed to the sense of magic.

This year was the first time since childhood that I visited New York in December to see the Rockefeller Center tree and check out all the holiday window displays. Andy and I took the train down in the evening the week before Christmas and stayed at a friend’s place in Brooklyn Heights. It was perfect: fantastic views of Lower Manhattan and we woke up in the city (it felt like such a treat!), ready to explore as much as we could.

Winter Wanderings in Manhattan - Sweet and Savoring [photo by Andy Milford]

Lower Manhattan and the East River, viewed from the Brooklyn Promenade

Winter Wanderings in Manhattan - Sweet and Savoring [photo by Andy Milford]

The view outside the apartment the next morning.

 Something about being in New York always thrills me, as if I’m involved in some grand mission with thrills around every corner. This, even after growing up less than an hour away. I love it. I love the beauty and the grit. I love how there might be a beautiful piece of street art on one corner…

Winter Wanderings in Manhattan - Sweet and Savoring [photo by Andy Milford]

Seen in Little Italy. Artist Beau Stanton.

 and across the way down an alley you can spot some centuries-old shutters still adorning windows!

Winter Wanderings in Manhattan - Sweet and Savoring

How cool is this??

Of course, it was a requirement to make a stop at Doughnut Plant, this time to the downtown location on Grand Street. Last time, we sampled the coconut cream filled doughnut, and I told Andy we had to try different flavors every time we go: thus we had one vanilla bean & jam filled doughnut, and a cranberry yeast doughnut. Whoa! Thank you Andy for suggesting the cranberry because I LOVED it. We were so into both doughnuts that this is the only photo we got!

Winter Wanderings in Manhattan - Sweet and Savoring [photo by Andy Milford]

Hurray for seasonal flavors and an open mind!

Next up was a place that we’d never been before, full of history and art and located far away from all the touristy attractions we’d be hitting later. My first glimpse of The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine up in Morningside Heights gave me pause: eyes widened, breath caught up in throat and all. I couldn’t believe this was my first time visiting one of the largest church buildings in the world, right here in New York! I’ve been to Rome, Vatican City, Florence, Barcelona, Paris, Montreal, and they all have breathtaking churches. How come I’d never made a point to come to this one before?

Wintry Wanderings Around Manhattan - Sweet and Savoring

So big, I couldn’t possibly get the whole facade in one shot, even standing across the street.

Andy captured the building much better up close:

Wintry Wanderings Around Manhattan - Sweet and Savoring [photo by Andy Milford]

Looking up from the main entrance steps- I just love the Gothic Revival details!

Wintry Wanderings Around Manhattan - Sweet and Savoring [photo by Andy Milford]

Standing in the side yard

It was nice and quiet (compared to the other parts of the city we visited) inside the cathedral, though the dramatic effect of looking down the length of the center aisle was lessened due to some A/V & production crews setting equipment up right in the center. Still, gazing up, you couldn’t help but experience that I’m so small feeling, as well as appreciation and reverence at what people are capable of creating with a lot of time and dedication.

Wintry Wanderings Around Manhattan - Sweet and Savoring [photo by Andy Milford]

One of the cathedral’s gorgeous stained glass windows.

Oh, and then there was this to lighten the mood:

Wintry Wanderings Around Manhattan - Sweet and Savoring [photo by Andy Milford]

A bit of levity amid the Gothic surroundings

Following the cathedral visit, we coincidentally found ourselves hungry and across the street from Tom’s Restaurant, more familiarly known as the diner from Seinfeld. It turned out we were lucky to get seats at all during their lunch rush, the vegetarian wrap was a huge disappointment, and the eggplant parmesan sandwich was surprisingly….incredible. So tender, so thinly sliced! (How could I not have gotten a picture??)

Winter Wanderings in Manhattan - Sweet and Savoring [photo by Andy Milford]

The “Tom’s” part of the sign was always carefully left out of the shots they used on Seinfeld.

Next up on our list was Central Park- talk about a winter wonderland! It was snowing and/or freezing rain the entire day, but when we were in the park it wasn’t bad at all. It was perfect, in fact, for a visit to Belvedere Castle, another first for Andy and I.

Winter Wanderings in Manhattan - Sweet and Savoring [photo by Andy Milford]

Did *you* know that there was a castle in Central Park?

Winter Wanderings in Manhattan - Sweet and Savoring [photo by Andy Milford]

The castle, built in 1869, is a mix of Gothic and Romanesque style architecture.

 It was nice to see other people enjoying the city despite how cold and wet it was that day.

Winter Wanderings in Manhattan - Sweet and Savoring [photo by Andy Milford]

Walking down Central Park West toward Columbus Circle.

Winter Wanderings in Manhattan - Sweet and Savoring [photo by Andy Milford]

Even the birds liked the snowy park 🙂

Our feet may have been hurting by the time we reached the bottom of the park, but there was still all the Christmassy things to see! We wandered through the maze of the Columbus Circle Holiday Market before taking shelter in the Time Warner Building to see the holiday light display (top photo).

We walked around the outside of the Plaza Hotel from there and headed down Fifth Avenue. This is where things start to get fuzzy, as there were a lot of blurry/snowy photos and we definitely backtracked several times. Bryant Park Holiday Market! A decadent (yet overpriced) chimney cake with Nutella inside! A peek down Park Avenue to see the small and unlit Christmas trees! Stepping into the Lindt chocolate store for free samples of their amazing Lindor balls! The holiday window displays in all the frou frou department stores! The Spectacular Christmas Explosion that was Macy’s!

Winter Wanderings in Manhattan - Sweet and Savoring [photo by Andy Milford]

Possibly Tiffany’s?

Winter Wanderings in Manhattan - Sweet and Savoring [photo by Andy Milford]

Bulgari, may I ask what snakes have to do with Christmas?

 Rockefeller Center was predictably full of people who wanted to do the same exact thing that we were there to do: take a picture in front of the tree. Part of the excitement of seeing the tree for me is watching all the ice skaters on the rink right underneath– disappointingly, it was closed (Because it was snowing? In winter?). But that couldn’t shake the smile from my face: I was finally here again after so many years!

Winter Wanderings in Manhattan - Sweet and Savoring [photo by Andy Milford]

Thanks to my brother for the awesome hand-me-down, weather-proof coat!

What made me smile even more was a fellow tree gazer/photographer offering to take our picture, as Andy’s arm-length shots weren’t really doing us or the tree justice. She took one, and then said “One more, vertical!”, which is exactly what I do when I take photos for strangers. She understood! Vertical gives you the whole shot! Plus, turning the camera gives you a different perspective, and a chance for the subjects to decide which one they like best. Thank you, friendly stranger!

Winter Wanderings in Manhattan - Sweet and Savoring

The obligatory us-and-the-Rockefeller-Center-Christmas-Tree picture!

Somehow, Andy decided to continue the People!Everywhere!Madness! theme and walk over to Times Square, which I must say didn’t look very festive. But hey, lights!

Winter Wanderings in Manhattan - Sweet and Savoring

“I’m the only one here! Why is no one else enjoying this freezing weather?!”

Sorry, Times Square, but Grand Central wins my vote for best holiday lights:

Winter Wanderings in Manhattan - Sweet and Savoring [photo by Andy Milford]

Because colors other than red and green can be festive.

 Grand Central, unlike New York’s other rail hub, Penn Station, is a wonderful place to wait for a train. We browsed through yet another holiday market, checked out the holiday model train show, and had a relaxing dinner at one of my favorites, Two Boots Pizza. I couldn’t have dreamed up a more satisfying end to our day in Manhattan.



A poem compresses much in a small space and adds music, thus heightening its meaning. The city is like poetry: it compresses all life, all races and breeds, into a small island and adds music and the accompaniment of internal engines. The island of Manhattan is without any doubt the greatest human concentrate on earth, the poem whose magic is comprehensible to millions of permanent residents but whose full meaning will always remain elusive.      –E.B. White

He fell in love with Manhattan’s skyline, like a first-time brothel guest falling for a seasoned professional. He mused over her reflections in the black East River at dusk, dawn, or darkest night, and each haloed light-in a tower or strung along the jeweled and sprawling spider legs of the Brooklyn Bridge’s spans-hinted at some meaning, which could be understood only when made audible by music and encoded in lyrics.    –Arthur Phillips

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  • Sue January 8, 2014 at 8:58 am

    LOVED the pictures. A few brought tears to my eyes, including the ones from the church and your smiling face despite the weather. I think I need to make an NYC trip a definite to-do next December.

    • Christy January 8, 2014 at 10:11 am

      I’m glad you liked them 🙂

      • Dad January 8, 2014 at 10:24 am

        We all enjoyed the winter adventures in NYC! Sometimes by train and others in our van. I have to say that parking a van almost anywhere in Manhattan during the Christmas season was difficult and sometimes expensive, but it was (usually) worth it. As an adult, I think it’s a treat to revisit places I had been to as a child.

  • Kate January 8, 2014 at 10:30 am

    Ohhh my best friend works in the Time Warner building and has instagrammed that same view! I’m going to NYC in a couple weeks- hoping it is still somewhat festive.

    • Christy January 8, 2014 at 10:34 am

      Oh, how fun! I bet you’ll have fun no matter what you do 🙂

  • Shana Norris January 8, 2014 at 10:41 am

    I LOVED seeing these photos and reading about your trip into the city. I’ve never been. Can you believe it? It’s a travesty, really, and something I hope to remedy very soon.

    “Something about being in New York always thrills me, as if I’m involved in some grand mission with thrills around every corner.” … THIS is exactly how I imagine it will feel!

    • Christy January 8, 2014 at 11:25 am

      I can’t believe it, but I guess I’m biased, haha. Maybe a goal for 2014 for you!
      I realize not everyone can have that thrilling feeling when in NYC- it’s noisy and crowded and waaaay overstimulating at times and I wish there were more places to sit (old lady alert!), but all that gets brushed aside in favor of the good stuff. Then again, I LOVE just observing and people-watching, so I’m easy to please.

  • Kate January 8, 2014 at 11:21 am

    Oh my gosh Manhattan… it just looks so stunning! My dream place to live!

    • Christy January 8, 2014 at 11:27 am

      Andy captures it well every time, doesn’t he? I’m not sure we could ever live there because of how expensive it is, but I do love visiting whenever I can!

  • Kim @ Exquisitely Unremarkable January 8, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    There really is no place in the world like NYC and no matter how many times you go, there is always something new (or old) to admire! I love all your “tourist” shots~ that’s what New York at Christmas is all about! Happy New Year!

    • Christy January 8, 2014 at 10:58 pm

      Haha, thanks Kim. We were extremely touristy (short of holding a huge map in front of our faces, that is)!

  • Tamara January 8, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    Growing up in NJ, a trip to NYC happened every Christmas. It was sometimes even after Christmas, but it kept the spirit at least until January. I do miss that. With so many good NYC-based Christmas movies, and my own memories, it is magic there during the holidays. (and always, of course)

    • Christy January 9, 2014 at 7:54 pm

      Sometimes we went after Christmas, too! One year my grandmother treated us all to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular and it was on Jan 3- nothing like extending the holiday season!

  • Deb Rothaug January 8, 2014 at 10:10 pm

    You’ve brought back lots of good memories, both your words and the beautiful pictures! I think we have a picture of you with the rest of the fam, somewhere in Manhattan for our annual Christmas venture! Look forward to sharing a walk on the High Line some time in the future, and “savoring” some new memories!

    • Christy January 9, 2014 at 7:41 pm

      A walk on the High Line sounds great! I still haven’t seen the newest section, but I get by following the FB page 🙂

  • Deb Rothaug January 8, 2014 at 10:11 pm

    P.S. I especially love your smiles in front of the Rockefeller Center tree!!

  • Miss Polkadot January 9, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    Stunning, I’m completely in awe by your photography and having never been to Manhattan [or any part of the US, actually and unfortunately] some of them truly made me feel like I was taking a walk there. I enjoy exploring cities, too, and hope I’ll be able to visit New York one day, too.

    • Christy January 9, 2014 at 8:00 pm

      Hi, thanks for stopping by! I’m glad you enjoyed the photos- most of them in this post are my husband’s- I’m lucky he lets me use them! I hope you get to come visit NY at some point- and I would love to get back over to Germany, too!

  • Amber January 9, 2014 at 3:47 pm

    I would LOVE to go there during the holidays. I was there years ago in May. Loved it.

    • Christy January 9, 2014 at 8:01 pm

      May’s a great time to be in NYC, too, Amber!

  • thedoseofreality January 9, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    LOVE LOVE LOVE those pictures! Gosh, NYC is just the GREATEST place ever! And seeing Central Park covered in snow?! Swoon.-Ashley
    thedoseofreality recently posted…Turns Out The Internet Will Survive Without MeMy Profile

    • Christy January 10, 2014 at 8:07 am

      Thanks, Ashley! My husband gets the credit for most of the photos. Yup, Central Park in the snow was what I was so excited about too!

  • Cynthia Banessa January 10, 2014 at 8:05 am

    Saw you on SITS…Love your NYC pics…awesome! I LOVE NY!

    • Christy January 10, 2014 at 8:08 am

      Hi Cynthia, thanks for coming on over! And yay for NY love!

  • Jennifer @Making Our Life Matter January 10, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    My kids make fun of me because I like my picture of the tree. We’ve only been there twice, but I can’t wait to come back just so I can get some cupcakes from Crumbs bakery!
    Jennifer @Making Our Life Matter recently posted…Favorite Post Friday On January 10thMy Profile

    • Christy January 13, 2014 at 7:39 am

      Ooh I know what you mean, Jennifer- I’m a sucker for a good bakery!

  • Chris @ Shared Appetite January 15, 2014 at 10:42 pm

    I’m so with you on the excitement and thrill of being in Manhattan. I grew up and still live just about an hour outside the city on Long Island. My wife and I drive into Manhattan pretty much every weekend. We absolutely love it there. So much to explore… you always find something new every time you go!

    And I am totally digging your stop at Doughnut Plant. It’s pretty darn amazing, isn’t it? I’m a big fan of their Tres Leches, PB&J, Creme Brulee, and Blackout. Really, they’re all amazing, haha!

    • Christy January 16, 2014 at 12:31 am

      Nice to know I’m not a total dork! I grew up in Huntington, and I feel lucky that we lived in such close driving distance, and that my parents took us into the city and exposed us to all that magic that we wouldn’t have seen in the suburbs.
      I’m thinking of Doughnut Plant right now…need to try the Blackout next time! Thanks for stopping by, Chris 🙂

  • Chastity @ My Rays of Sunshine January 20, 2014 at 10:17 pm

    I’ve never been to NYC, but I would love to go! My son loves downtown areas and would have so much in The Big Apple. He would absorb it all and talk for days about the architecture. I can’t wait to learn more about your adventures as a fellow SITS tribe member.

    • Christy January 20, 2014 at 10:51 pm

      Happy to see you here, Chastity! I hope you and your son get to visit NYC sometime soon; there is seriously something for everyone there.

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